Your high school senior is getting ready to graduate and you’ve got 2 months left to teach them a few life skills to get them ready for their Freshman year at college. Many students leaving home for the first time will be well-versed in all things domestic before going to college, but there are a large number who aren’t. Huge numbers of students arrive on campus each year with no experience of many of the basic skills that they will need when living away from the family home. It will save a lot of time, possibly money, and certainly embarrassment if they learn a few domestic skills before they go.
Many of the everyday chores that we as parents do without thinking can seem totally unmanageable to kids that have never had to do them before, so if you spend a little time going through this list of basic life skills with them before they leave, you can rest assured that they are armed with some of the basic skills for survival when you’re not there to help out.
- How to use a washing machine – including washing temperatures for different things (clothes versus towels etc.), sorting whites from coloured clothes, how much detergent to use, what can be tumble-dried, and what cannot – they don’t want their favourite t-shirt shrivelled after their first attempt. It’s important to understand how to read washing labels on clothes, and what each of the symbols means.
- How to make a good veggie chili and other basic kitchen skills. Basic skills should include things like scrambled eggs/omelette, an easy stir fry, a quick curry etc. Tempting though it may be for them, you really don’t want them to live on toast for a whole term.
- How to change the sheets on the bed – sounds simple, but just knowing the knack of getting a duvet into the cover quickly can save lots of time. You don’t want them to fall into the student trap of just not putting the cover on their duvet, it will very quickly become grimy and they (or you!) will have to fork out for a new one, or at the very least a dry-clean – an unnecessary expense they won’t want when they’re trying to exist on a tight budget.
- How to use an iron – they might not need or want to iron all their t-shirts for everyday wear, but there will come a time when they need an ironed shirt – for an interview, for example – and they need to know how to do this properly (without burning a hole in it!).
- How to freeze food – list out what you can freeze, and what you can’t. They should understand that it’s often cost-effective to buy larger quantities and make extra portions of their supper. If they cook more than one portion, they can freeze the rest – simply let it cool first and put single portion sized amounts in suitable containers or bags and pop straight in the freezer. They will then have a few ready-made meals for when they don’t have time to cook. It’s much cheaper to do it this way, and making extra portions hardly takes any extra time.
- How to shop for food. This may seem an obvious one, but there are certainly things that they should bear in mind when doing the regular food shop – these points are obvious and useful for all of us who are on a budget, but students might need reminding. They should:
- MAKE A LIST. This means that nothing gets forgotten, but more importantly, there’s less temptation just to browse and pick up things that catch their eye – they buy just what they need and nothing more, saving lots of money.
- If they can, shop online. This will again save them from making impulse purchases, and it’s also much quicker to do price comparisons between different brands. They also know exactly how much they are spending as they fill their basket.
- Larger sizes of packs are generally (but not always) more economical, so if it’s something they’re going to use regularly, they should buy a bigger quantity and save some money.
- Consider buying cheaper cuts of meat, or even better, use beans, pulses and root vegetables as a base for meals.
- Avoid the big (and therefore expensive) brands – there are generally cheaper options that are usually just as good.
If they get a little practice in these few simple life skills, life will be much easier and they’ll be able to focus on the important things like working (and socializing) and not chores.
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